How Telehealth can keep you on track with your physio goals during COVID-19
With the vast distances of Australia and reduced availability of healthcare in remote areas, Telehealth physiotherapy was already on the rise before the COVID-19 virus struck. Now, with social distancing and travel restriction measures in place with most Governments, the benefits of telehealth for physio are even greater.
Telehealth services enable physios to remotely engage and deliver patient care outside of the medical setting, thus eliminating the issue of distance between clinician and patient.
Telehealth is an expansion of telemedicine and focuses on the delivery of health services and related preventive, promotive and curative information via telecommunications technologies. Tele-health for physiotherapy makes complete sense not just for patients living remotely, but also patients whose conditions don’t allow them to travel for a number of reasons.
What are the uses of telehealth for physiotherapy?
- Transmission of medical images for diagnosis and updates
- Advice on prevention of injury and promotion of good health by patient monitoring and follow-up
- Continuation of guided exercises for rehabilitation with interaction of your physio
Telehealth improves outcomes for physio patients
Continuation of training at home is one of the most important aspects of successful physiotherapy and ensures that patients will continue to improve and that their progress can be monitored remotely and in real time.
Telehealth ensures non-compliance with physio and rehabilitation programs can be monitored and any patient that requires extra engagement, motivation or education can have direct access to their physio.
The Government is updating Telehealth service availability and rebates right now.
Under new legislation passed this week, medicare rebate Telehealth services for many healthcare providers will be available to-
- people isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner or in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the AHPPC; –
- people who meet the testing guidelines for COVID-19; –
- people aged over 70; –
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50; –
- people with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised; and –
- parents with new babies and people who are pregnant.
Private health funds are also fast tracking access for their members to physio telehealth consultations while movements are restricted by COVID-19.
Several private health funds have agreed to provide benefits for individual physiotherapy teleconsultations where:
- The customer is undergoing an existing course of treatment and the customer has seen the physiotherapist over the past six months, or
- For new patients, the tele-physiotherapy service has been recommended by their general practitioner or relevant medical specialist, and
- The primary condition being treated is one of:
- Post orthopaedic surgery rehabilitation (e.g. Total hip or knee replacement)
- Chronic musculoskeletal condition (e.g. osteoarthritis)
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Pulmonary rehabilitation, or
- pelvic floor muscle training,
- The service is delivered before 30 September 2020, and
- The service is undertaken in accordance with Australian Physiotherapy Association guidelines.
Health funds will provide coverage for teleconsultations provided by physiotherapists from Tuesday 14 April 2020 subject to the conditions listed above.
Health fund members should check with their health fund to see if they will cover tele-physiotherapy consultations. Some funds may impose additional conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t need to derail your rehabilitation and physiotherapy goals. For more information on telehealth physiotherapy and the services available, contact Lane Cove Physio on (02) 9428 5772 or at [email protected]
 Brennan DM, Mawson S, Brownsel S. Telerehabilitation: enabling the remote delivery of healthcare, rehabilitation and self management. Studies in Health tech and inform. 2009;123:231.
 Jin, J., Sklar, G., Oh, V., Li, S. Factors affecting therapeutic compliance: A review from the patient’s perspective. Therapeutic and Clinical Risk Management 2008:4:269-286